Back from holiday!

Hi friends,

I am back from holiday! It almost feels like a distant memory now, as I got home last Sunday.

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Sorry for the lack of posting since then, but have just been getting caught up with life after holiday. You know how it is- have to get some food, clean all your clothes, then it’s back to work and getting caught up on work and emails.

Thankfully, it’s a long weekend here in the UK, so I’ve had an extra day of catching up and relaxing this weekend, which has been very nice.

Assen and I had a relaxing weekend together, finally having a chance to spend some time together. This included spending some time at the local beer festival in town

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We smile so nice in pictures :)

We also explored an old English town, Thaxted, which was a fun day trip to get out of town for a bit.

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We also rounded out the weekend with a trip to the movies, to see Pitch Perfect 2. I’ve seen the first one about 10,000 times, so I was very excited to watch the sequel. And I’m happy to say that I thought the second one was great as well. I look forward to watching it many more times :)

It’s back to work tomorrow, and then next week, I’m actually flying out to Switzerland for my job. Originally I was supposed to be flying to Switzerland this week, and the US next week, but I couldn’t make it work with a few of my client’s schedules, so I lost the US trip. But, I think that’s probably for the best, as honestly- a trip is exciting but the week before and after to catch up with everything else is always much less exciting.

I’m starting to work on my recap of my trip, which was absolutely amazing! Very busy- I summarised it on my instagram post but I realised at the end that in 14 days, I had been to 6 cities and stayed in 7 hotels. I did a ton of walking during my trip, so I walked about 140-150 km in the 14 days (as some days my mom and I were walking up to 20 km in a day). It was absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to share it all with you guys!

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How has everyone else been while I’ve been away?

Photo recap of Italy and Switzerland

Hi all,

This is my final pre-written post before I’m actually back from holiday! I’m straight back to work the day after I return, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty of pictures and stories to share before you know it.

My first big trip after I moved to the UK was a 2.5 week holiday through Milan, few places in Switzerland, and finally New Years in Amsterdam. This holiday was quite a while ago, so I thought today- I’d share a few memories from that trip with some pictures!

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The roof of the cathedral in Milan

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The most beautiful place I have ever been to- Montreux, Switzerland.

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Getting ready for my chocolate factory tour (bonus: at the end, there is a room that’s filled with chocolates and you can eat as many as you’d like)

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No exaggeration- I bought all that chocolate. And then I had to sit down for about 30 minutes because my stomach hurt so much from all the chocolate eating!

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The Swiss Alps

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Zurich, Switzerland- such a beautiful place. However, it is known as being one of the most expensive places in Europe. A medium vanilla latte from Starbucks will cost you 7 Euros.

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The smallest tub that I have ever seen in my life. So I obviously had to get into it so that I could see just how small it was.

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Skiing the Swiss Alps

Unfortunately, I don’t really have any pictures from Amsterdam. I took a tour of the canal, where I snapped a few blurry pictures. However, for the rest of the trip, I was mostly drinking and eating- so there wasn’t much of an opportunity for pictures. But it is a beautiful city and was a fantastic place to ring in the New Year.

Have a great rest of your weekend everyone! I’ll be back from my current travels soon :)

How to travel on a budget

Hi friends,

So in the last post it was all about saving for a holiday. Today’s post is all about now that I’ve saved and put aside all this money, it’s time to book some trips. So how can you make your money spread a little further?

Here are my tricks for making every dollar count:

  • Set a budget for how much you have to spend. Then, look into how you can make that work. Don’t just go, spend a bunch of money, and then regret things you didn’t even enjoy afterwards. I’m all about having a plan, and if you have a budget, then you don’t need to spend your holiday worrying about how you’re going to afford your trip once you return.
  • Book flights with cheapy airlines. In Europe these include: RyanAir, EasyJet, wiz Air, etc. I always use the website skyscanner.com to find out what the cheapest option is for flying. Sometimes I’ll also have a few locations in mind, in case the flights are really expensive- which is the reason Assen and I went to Prague rather than Iceland, as the flights to Iceland were almost double what they were to go to Iceland.
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There’s not much leg room on those flights though!

  • The thing with booking with cheapy airlines is that there are NO extras. I’ve flown on RyanAir where it’s cost more to check my bag then the entire ticket cost. Therefore, if possible- don’t check a bag! When my friend and I traveled around Spain last year, we were gone for 8 days and did it all with a check-on. Let me know if you guys are interested in a separate post for this, as I have truly become a master at packing.
  • Look into cheap options for where you’re staying. I always will look at three sites: booking.com lastminute.com airbnb.com

    The first 2 are for cheap hotels, and the third is where you actually stay in people’s homes. I’ve now stayed at airbnb places twice, and both times the option has been about half the price of a hotel, and in a fantastic location. I always select to have the entire place, as I’m not comfortable sharing a house when the owner is there, and make sure you read the reviews!

  • Research where you’re growing beforehand. Especially if you’re a museum person. A lot of museum’s have days you can get in for free, or they have specific deals if you’re under 25 and an EU member (of which I am neither, but am always jealous of the deal everyone else is getting).
  • Once there, I try and save money where I can. Often I try and stay places that have a fridge, so I can buy something easy for breakfast (yogurt and fruit) so I’m not eating at a restaurant for meals. It’s easy to stop at a grocery store and buy the ingredients for a sandwich, or local specialties, and then enjoy a meal outside. Throughout most parts of Europe, you can drink outside (something you’re not allowed to do in Canada), so I love taking advantage of this and buying some wine or beer at the grocery store, and then enjoying outside. Cheaper than sitting in a pub/bar/lounge, and often has a nicer view.
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The airBnB place that Assen and I stayed in when we were in Prague

  • Splurge on the things that matter to you! This is a vacation of course, so don’t spend the entire time worrying about money. When Assen and I were in Rome, we paid for a guided tour of the Vatican and it was worth every single penny! I think we got so much more out of our time at the Vatican because we had someone to tell us the back stories of the place.

So that’s how I go on all of my holidays :) Does anyone else have any travel tips that they’ve used in the past? I’d love to hear them- as any way for me to save any money so I can travel even more is greatly appreciated!

Also, let me know if there’s any other questions for booking a trip, planning a holiday, or anything else. I’d love to have a few blog posts around how to make traveling work for everyone.

How to budget for traveling

Hi all,

How’s everyone’s week going? This is one of my pre-written posts, so right now my week is stressful for trying to get everything done before heading away on holiday. Blogging is my break from every day craziness, so often times it’s my bit of relaxing in a day.

I thought I would cover a topic today that I’ve been debating about for a while. When I talk about how much traveling I do, there’s always one question that comes along with it. Most people ask in a subtle way, but the thing I think most people wonder is “How are you affording all that travel?”

So I thought today I would share how I make it work for myself. Obviously everyone’s finances are very different, and money is a very sensitive topic, so this is not to say that it will work for everyone, but this is how I make it work for myself. I’ll be splitting this topic into a two parter: first, how to save for traveling, and then the next post, for later this week, will be how to make the most of the money you have for traveling! If anyone has specific questions, I’m happy to discuss through :)

So first up, is money inflow. I’m not going to say much about this because I don’t feel comfortable disclosing to the world how much I make. However, I will say that this is obviously a large component of what you will be able to afford. This is the starting point for the amount you can spend. I refuse to travel on debt, therefore any money that I spend on traveling is from money I actually have. I get paid a set amount each month, therefore, for any travel I want to do, I can only play around with my expenses.

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Night view of Amsterdam

For your outflow of cash, there are two kinds of expenses- fixed and variable. Fixed are costs you have to pay each month and have no wiggle room- rent, car payments, electricity, water bills, etc. When I first moved to the UK, my goal was to set up my fixed costs to be as low as possible. Rent is very expensive in the UK, so I didn’t have much room around that. For my car, I drive a 2001 car which I bought with the money I had from selling my car in Canada. That eliminates a monthly payment I would otherwise have to pay. For my other bills, I strive to keep them as low as possible through just general things like turning off lights when I leave a room, and wearing a warm sweater at home rather than turning up the heat to live in a tropical paradise.

Variable expenses is where you can really play. These are costs which you know you will incur but can control the amount you spend- so things like groceries, entertainment, car expenses, gifts, etc. This is where I have tried to cut back the most. Back in Canada, I regularly went to yoga studios, and would spend hundreds of dollars on yoga classes. Now, I exclusively do yoga at home. I haven’t been to a studio in over a year. I miss the atmosphere of a group class, but for where I am at right now, it’s more important to me that I am able to spend that money on a flight somewhere. For groceries, I really aim to eat out as little as possible. When I work more than an 11 hour day, my job provides me with money to buy a meal, therefore most of the eating out I’ve done over the past few months has been free for me.

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The cathedral in Milan

Other things that I do to save on costs:

  • I barely ever go shopping. I think in the past 6 months I have bought myself a pair of jeans and a sweater. Total cost= £50
  • Whenever I can, I walk somewhere. This reduces the amount of gas I need to put in my car
  • I haven’t bought anything for my house. This has been a really tough one! When I first moved here, I had to buy the basics (plates, cutlery, towels, bedsheets, etc.) but I was lucky in that someone I worked with was moving in with his girlfriend, so he gave me a bed, couch, and a desk- all for £20. I bought a new mattress for the bed, a kitchen table, and that’s all I’ve purchased for my place. Despite the fact that I would love to have a comfortable couch that doesn’t sag in the middle, and a bed that doesn’t squeak everytime I move, or a storage container in my bedroom- I know that I’m only in the UK for a limited time. So instead, I put that money towards traveling.
  • I generally keep my weekends that I’m not traveling, especially in the summer when I am traveling more, very low key. The less I do during the weekend, the more I can do when I’m traveling.
  • I don’t really do any “extra’s” that I used to regularly enjoy in Canada. I do my nails at home, same with pedicures. I’ve had my hair cut twice in the past 20 months, and besides my birthday spa day, I haven’t had a massage or any other spa treatment.

The goal with variable costs is to make them work for you. I used to spend a bunch of money on stuff I didn’t really care about- like a coffee a day from Starbucks. But once you put together how much that coffee is truly costing you- it’s easy to start cutting things like that out. Now I make coffee and bring it into work with me!

Because my work busy season is January-March (and arguably can start as early as October), this also helps me save money. When you’re working all the time, it’s very hard to spend your money!

Now, of course you should also be saving money and putting it aside. I’m not covering that because for me, the money I have left after paying all my bills and my variable budget is what I can spend on traveling!

And then next comes…how to make your money spread a little further while on holiday?! That’ll be up in a few days. Let me know if there are any questions about how to budget.

Birthday reminiscing

Hi friends,

Happy Wednesday! I’m currently away in Portugal, and later on will be in Belgium, but I pre-wrote a few posts to keep you company while I’m away over the next two weeks. If you’re curious of my travels, feel free to follow me on instagram @sarahdominique5 for up to date pictures from my trip!

So by the time you’re reading this, I will have had my 29th birthday, as my birthday is May 5th. While I still have one more year in my 20’s before the big 3-0, I can’t help but start looking back at my 20’s and how much has changed in the past 10 years.

First of all, 10 years ago, at the age of 19, I had just finished my first year of University. I had lived on a party floor in residence and my favourite thing to do was to go out drinking with my friends and dance the night away.

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Yep- classy all the way. Shot-gunning a beer.

At the age of 19, I left North America for the first time, traveling to Costa Rica with my then boyfriend. Fun fact- our way to Costa Rica, we missed our connecting flight in San Francisco. We decided to go grab some lunch, and didn’t have any watches with us so we didn’t realise the time. By the time we got back to the boarding gate for our flight, our plane had already started moving away from the gate. We ended up having to spend the night in Dallas (where we were supposed to catch the next part of our flight to Costa Rica) and missed out on a day on our trip.

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5 years ago, at the age of 24, I had just graduated University with my degree in business, and returned from back-packing through South East Asia for 2 months.

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I spent most of early 20’s studying hard in University, working as a waitress at a restaurant, and generally not having much excitement in my life. Beyond of course, the time I went sky-diving, which I did at the age of 21, and honestly, I don’t think I could ever do again. But I’m glad to say that I have done it!

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2 years ago, I had just finished getting my Chartered Accountancy designation (after 3 hard years of working and school), and I was working to move to Europe. The day before I flew to China for a family trip, I threw a 1920’s themed murder mystery party with my friends

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One year ago, I was just starting to feel like I had my feet back under me. After a whirlwind trip to Costa Rica to become a certified yoga instructor in July, getting engaged at the end of July, moving to the UK in August, going through a break-up in January, and then working 15 hours day for 3 months, I was finally able to take a break, get away for a trip and spend some time with my friend.

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Now, here we are, one year later, and my live has been a great adventure. I’ve managed to complete all the traveling that I can, having traveled through 8 countries in one year, also while getting a promotion at my job and starting a new relationship.

I can’t wait to see how much life will continue to change over the next 1, 2, 5 and 10 years. Thanks for everyone who reads who continues to be part of this journey with me!

Here’s to being 29 :)

Personal challenge, final update

Hi friends,

How’s everyone’s weekend going? Mine’s been filled with frantic work, as I tried to get ready to leave on my holiday and still somehow get my work done, as well as get ready for my trip.

I’m still in the process of packing and finishing my work, so this post will have to be a bit shorter than usual, however, I wanted to check in with you all for my second week of my personal challenge.

Checking in with myself, I give myself a D- for this week. I did not do great guys!

First up- yoga

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My goal was to complete 30 minutes of yoga every day. What did I actually accomplish? 4 times. While this is under what my goal was- I still feel like I did ok. As I started saying for how my week was, this week was pretty crazy for me. Therefore, I feel like I did the best that I could with what I had. And sometimes there’s other things in life that are more important- like spending an evening with your boyfriend before you both go on separate holidays and won’t be seeing each other.

Second step- eating more clean.

I would say this is where I failed the most this week. On Sunday, I didn’t end up having the time to prep as much food as I had planned, so I started off the week at a disadvantage. Then on Tuesday, I made a simple salad with soup for dinner, which left me no leftovers. That meant Wednesday lunch was eating out. Then Assen and I went out to eat for Wednesday night, so we had some time together, which meant Thursday lunch was eating out as well. Friday dinner was also eaten out, as Assen and I had a work event that meant we weren’t even thinking about food until almost 10 pm.

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I also had a few drinks during the week, as often when I’m working later at home, I will have a drink whilst I work. This probably did not help my yoga either, as I had a drink on Tuesday, when I didn’t do any yoga, and Wednesday while out for dinner (and also a non-yoga day).

Sleep: getting 7 hours of sleep a night

I did so well on this last week. This week- not as much. I managed 7 hours for the first half of the week. But Wednesday night I only got 6.5, and Thursday night, only 6. The rest of the week, I did make it to 7 hours though- with Friday night, even getting 8.5 (and I was up for 10 am on Saturday- which is early for me!).

Overall, this challenge was a bit more than I think I really should have taken on. While I probably could have made more time for yoga, it’s also important to listen to your body. When I’m exhausted from work, sometimes it’s more important that I just go to sleep and not feel the need to make a home-cooked meal and do yoga. So this was a gentle reminder to myself to allow myself the time to take breaks, and not ask too much of myself.

How did everyone else’ weekend go?

Nice, France

Thanks for the positive words for my challenge! Half way through week 2 :)

Figured I would back up a little bit further since my last post on travels, to the weekend before, when I met with Cara to go to Nice, France for my birthday weekend. As of this weekend, it will be an entire year ago! How time flies.

I flew out on Saturday morning, with my flight leaving at 6 am. On Friday night, I went out with a few friends for birthday drinks, and then went back home to pack. I had to be leaving my house at about 3 am, so I didn’t even bother going to sleep.

I slept on the way to the airport, and then on the plane to Nice, and before I knew it, I was checked into the hotel and enjoying a delicious breakfast in the outdoor patio of the hotel.

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Cara had already been there for a day, so as soon as I had eaten some breakfast, she knew right where to take me. We each had a cocktail on the beach, while listening to the water crash over the waves.

The water was so beautiful, and for early May, it was extremely nice out. The perfect Saturday afternoon.

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Because it was my birthday weekend, Cara and I had decided that we would treat ourselves to a few spa treatments at the hotel.It was absolutely luxurious! I very rarely take the time (and the money) to treat myself in that way, so it felt extra indulgent that we did.

For treatments, we first spent twenty minutes in a steam room, and then I had my massage first, while Cara sat in the waiting room, sipping tea and relaxing. We then switched and she had her massage, while I had a lovely hour nap (as remember- at this point I had been up for about 36 hours with around 3 hours of sleep), before heading back in for a leg scrub and foot massage.

I left that spa feeling the most relaxed I had felt in a long time!

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It was Saturday night so we decided we would celebrate my birthday a couple days early (as my birthday wasn’t until the Monday) and head out for a nice dinner, followed by some dancing.

I can’t tell you anything about the dinner that we had, but I do remember it being quite delicious (and hilarious, as French men are flirts when they see two women out)

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We had googled bars in the area, and found a nightclub that was supposed to be amazing. We headed there and had a great time just dancing the entire night.

I will say that I did not appreciate the amount that we were groped! Men kept on touching our bums the entire night! Cara and I have long ago established a “Safety area” when dancing, to ensure no one is around us and therefore trying to inappropriately dance or touch us. We did our best to enforce this while dancing, but I would say we failed about 50% of the time.

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We stayed out fairly late, and I slept late the next day. It felt glorious to finally be in a bed and have a proper night’s sleep after being up for almost 2 days.

The next day, Cara and I wandered through the town, and found a great hiking spot where we could look over Nice. The views were stunning and made up for the many stairs we had to climb to see it (all of my holidays seem to include me climbing a bajillion steps at some point).

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We spent the day exploring, and stopping in at a few places for some shopping, as well as a mid-day cocktail in the shade when it got too hot in the sun.

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Both Cara and I were feeling lazy after our night out the day before, so we bought a bunch of snacks and some wine, got Cara’s iPad, and watched a movie on the beach while the sun set. It was a great, relaxing way to spend the evening.

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The next day was the morning of my birthday. I was flying back to the UK by mid-afternoon, but we wanted to spend the morning together celebrating.

As such, we headed back to the beach, but first with a stop at a French pastry shop.

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I have a long standing birthday tradition of doing yoga on my birthday. I started this about 5 birthdays ago (soon to be 6!), as my boyfriend at the time (who wasn’t the best boyfriend) was working and couldn’t spend any time with me. So instead, I went to a yoga class to do something for “me” on my birthday, and ever since the tradition has stuck.

Last year, while in Nice, I did about an hour of yoga on the beach, therefore keeping my birthday tradition alive. Afterwards we just lay there and soaked in the beautiful weather before I devoured my birthday cake.

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After a bit more time at the beach, I had to head back to the airport to fly back to the UK. It was sad to leave the beautiful weather and celebrations, but I was lucky enough to come home to the below surprise. 50 blown up balloons, flowers, presents, and a Happy Birthday banner, all courtesy of Assen.

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It was an absolutely amazing birthday weekend, and I loved my weekend in Nice so, so much. Absolutely amazing.

Has anyone else been to Nice? What was your favourite part of the trip?

Week 1 challenge update

Hi all,

How was everyone’s week? Mine flew by, as it was another busy one for work. But just 7 more days and I am on holiday, so it is getting close :)

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Can’t wait to spend some time with my mom!

But before I can start thinking about my holiday: Week 1 check-in with my challenge. I would give myself a B- for the first week. Here’s what went right and wrong.

First up- yoga. My goal was to do yoga for 30 minutes everyday. This is probably the part of the challenge I did the worst on.

Monday and Tuesday started out great- I did 45 minutes on Monday, and another hour on Tuesday. Wednesday I was at work until 11:30, so I did not get to any yoga that night. Thursday I went home at 8 pm, made some dinner, and then went back to work till 11:30 again. Friday my goal was to do yoga, but by the time I got home (at a very early 7 pm), I just wanted to have a glass of wine and chill out. Therefore, I missed a third day in the row. Saturday I went for a long walk, so I’m giving myself partial credit for doing something active, even though it wasn’t yoga.

Today, I decided enough was enough and no more excuses. Therefore, I woke up this morning, put on my yoga clothes and did an hour of yoga first thing. So out of 7 days, I did yoga 3 times, and went for a walk one day. Not great, but not awful.

Second- food. My goal here was to eat more clean- eating out less, cutting out desserts, having only one coffee a day, and no alcohol during the week.

This part of the challenge I did pretty well on. On Sunday, I spent a bunch of time prepping food. I made homemade granola bars from OhsheGlows recipe book, as well as cut up some fruit and just generally got ready for the week.

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I spent some time planning my meals, which is something I’ve gotten out of the habit of doing recently. I figured there would be at least one meal this week that I wouldn’t be at home for, so I only planned for 4 (and only remembered to snap 3). I made an African peanut stew (courtesy of Ohsheglows recipe book), shrimp pest pasta, chicken stiry fry, and tex-mex casserole (also courtesy of Ohsheglows recipe book- seriously, buy the book!)

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I only had one cup of coffee each day, which was probably the hardest part of the food challenge, and I went the work week without any alcohol. I did have a glass of wine on Friday, and a beer on Saturday, but my intention was to avoid alcohol during the week, and then enjoy on the weekend.

I did eat out on Wednesday night, as I was at work quite late and got hungry then, so I was happy with my intention to eat out less, and not just say I was eliminating it.

Third part of the challenge was to sleep more. Specifically, I challenged myself to get 7 hours of sleep each night.

I did really well on this one! I made it for 7 hours every day except for Thursday. Thursday night I worked until 11:30, and then I wanted some relax time. So I ended up staying up, playing on my phone, until about 1 am. Therefore, when my alarm went off at 7 am, I was feeling very sleepy on Friday. However, every other night, I managed to make it to bed in time to get 7 hours of sleep, and I did notice a difference in how I felt each day.

Going forward: what am I going to change for week 2 of this challenge?

To be honest, probably very little. I’ve already gone grocery shopping for this week, and am going to spend some time in the afternoon prepping what I can for the week. This is the last week at work before my 2 week holiday, and I have a big client deadline approaching, so I know it’s going to be another crazy one. Therefore, being able to do 7 yoga classes this week may again be the biggest challenge of this week, but I’m still going to strive towards it!

Wish me luck :)

Weekend in Florence

Hi friends,

I promise my next post will be for an update on how my challenge is going, but I wanted to switch gears to a past trip that I had last May (crazy to think it’s almost been a year), when I went on a weekend trip to Florence, Italy with my best friend Cara, and her boyfriend (now fiancee) Jordan.

Whenever I speak with people about Italy, they seem to always comment that Florence was their favourite place. And I can see why. I’ve now been to Pisa, Milan, Rome, and Florence within Italy, and Florence does have a different kind of magic than the rest of Italy.

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I took the Friday off from work when I went to Florence and enjoyed a long weekend visit. However, since I arrived quite late on Thursday, and then left mid-afternoon on Sunday, I really only had 2 days to explore, so I took advantage.

Friday, Cara and I went into town and wandered about. Florence has an absolutely stunning cathedral right in the center of the city, so that was our first stop. I haven’t included any pictures of the inside, because although it’s pretty on the inside, the outside is the truly magnificent part of the cathedral.

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One of my favourite things to do while in Italy, is to sit at a cafe somewhere and just enjoy a coffee. And after wandering about the cathedral (which, if you’re going make sure you have your shoulders and knees covered as the shorts I was wearing were not allowed in and I had to tie a scarf around my waist to be allowed in), Cara and I sat and just chatted for awhile.

And then we made our way to the shops. Florence has a great little shopping area, and if you can handle the crowds, then you’re likely to find some good finds.

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After working up our appetite, we enjoyed some Italian pasta. We found a large patio, sat outside, drank some wine, and I enjoyed a very large plate of pasta.

What you don’t see is my practically licking my plate at the end. Pasta in Italy= most delicious thing in the world.

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We spent a few more hours wandering around, enjoying the water and the bridges, before heading back to the hotel we were staying at to drink some wine and catch up with Jordan (who had left the two of us on our own for the day so we could catch up). We were in bed at a good time as we had specific plans the next day.

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At 9 am on Saturday, we met for a wine tour through the Tuscan valley. Nothing like drinking wine at 9 am to remind you that your on holiday.

Now, my mom lives in the wine area of Canada (which a lot of people don’t realise exists- honestly, Canadian wine is delicious) so I’ve spent some time touring vineyards before. But there’s something additionally amazing to know that you’re going on a wine tour in Italy!

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Our wine tour started out in the city, with some information about wine grown in the area, and a lesson on how to properly taste wine. Our wine tour also included a couple of bus stops for tours. This included stopping at Piazalle Michelangelo. Where you can both see a bronze statue of the statue of David

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As well as a stunning panoramic view of Florence. (Cara and I had both bought our hats at the market the day before).

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We then moved on to the vineyards, outside of Florence. Even though it was only mid-May, the area was so lush, and it felt like the middle of summer. We enjoyed the view for a while before wandering through the areas where the wine was being aged.  IMG_4362

My favourite part of the tour was when we were led into a super old room, as per the picture below. There were bottles of wine that were hundreds of years old, covered in a thick layer of dust. It showed how long that particular vineyard had been there for.

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By this point it was just about noon, and we were ready for some tasting! We had several different tastings at the first place we went to, then went back into the van and was brought to a second location, where a light lunch was provided and then more tastings.

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It was an amazing day, filled with delicious food, great memories, and of course, fantastic wine.

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The tour was over by mid-afternoon, and we were dropped off where we had originally started. I think all three of us had a pretty nice buzz happening from the wine. We decided it was a tad too early to just continue drinking, so instead we wandered around a few more shops.

There’s a bridge in Florence, Ponte Vecchio, which is an old medieval bridge. There are shops on the bridge, which apparently when the bridge was first built they were butchers, but now all tenants are jewelers. It’s a more expensive area for shopping, so the three of us just enjoyed wandering through the old streets, and looking at what was displayed in the windows.

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We also, of course, stopped for some delicous, delicious gelato. I’m not sure if I’ve shared before, but I absolutely love gelato. Every time I am in Italy, I try and eat as much as I possibly can. One of my friends told me once how you can tell if it is genuine gelato. A lot of the tourist places have the gelato stacked in really high heaps- but they have had to add chemicals to it in order to make it not melt right away.

If the gelato is real, and therefore extra delicious, they will be in metal containers, with lids on them.

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Jordan suffers from allergies, so after our gelato, he wanted to head back to the hotel as he wasn’t feeling well. So the three of us consulted a map, and set out on our way. 2 HOURS LATER, we had to take a taxi to where we wanted to go, as we had somehow gotten ourselves hopelessly lost and instead of walking towards the hotel, we had been walking in a 270 degree different direction. It’s one of those things that makes me laugh now, but I don’t think Jordan was very happy with either Cara or I at the time.

It was a short trip to Florence, but an absolutely amazing one! Has anyone else been? What was your experience like?

Getting back on track detailed plan

Thanks everyone for your support on my “Getting back on track” plan.

As promised, I wanted to provide some details on what I’m planning on doing.

Step 1: Yoga every day for 30 minutes

I decided this as yoga is really good for both my physical body, but also my spiritual side. Often times I find after a good yoga class, I will have more perspective. I will always remember one yoga class I went to, I went into the class feeling extremely stressed out from my job, and having to work a lot. And by the time the class ended, and I was driving home, all I felt was gratitude for the life I had, where my biggest worry was having to work.

Therefore, for this requirement, it’s not so much that I’ll be doing a vinyasa flow everyday, but just some time on my mat.

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Step 2: Clean up my diet to eat more clean

As I shared on Friday, recently I’ve been eating out a lot. And while it hasn’t been anything crazy bad for me- sandwiches or a wrap at lunch, and then Thai curry or a salad for dinner, there’s been a lot of others mixed in. A glass of wine when I come home has become the norm for most days. Dessert after dinner is an every day occurrence, sometimes after lunch as well.

I’ve noticed a change in how I feel recently. Plus my skin is breaking out- which I am also not a fan of!

Therefore, the plan for clean eating is bringing it back to the basics. I’m not into doing a strict cleanse for 2 reasons. One is that work is still very busy for me, so if I start saying things like no sugar, no take-away, etc. then I will likely be setting myself up for failure. And two, I don’t think it’s reasonable to take away all things that are unhealthy. The whole point of this is to reset, and I best reset by allowing myself indulgences, but just changing the focus a bit.

So, my plan for the next two weeks is as follows: Focus on cooking more at home, eating whole foods, cutting back on alcohol (specifically no alcohol during the week), and only one cup of coffee in the morning (as I’m currently up to about 3 a day).

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Step 3: Get more sleep

The thing about working a lot, is that you still crave some relax time when you get home. So even when I work until midnight, or 1 am, it’s still ready hard to convince yourself to go home and go to bed right away. Your body needs some downtime! Therefore, throughout busy season, I have slowly started going to bed later and later. And when my alarm goes off in the morning- I hate everything and would trade my soul for another hour of sleep.

I think, at most, I get 6 hours of sleep a night during the week. Then on the weekend, I sleep in until noon because my body is desperately trying to catch up on the sleep it lost. It’s a terrible habit I’ve gotten into, and I am striving to sleep more.

I am starting off easy, and am aiming for 7 hours of sleep a night. While this still might be under what I should be getting, I think it’s a good goal for me to get started.

Anyone want to join along with me? I would still love some meal ideas, as well as tips on how to make sure I actually get to bed at a decent time (which I think will be the hardest part of my challenge).

Wish me luck!